The Official Blog of Graceland

Welcome to the official blog of Elvis Presley’s Graceland! You can take Elvis-inspired quizzes, get first-looks on events here at Graceland and how-to guides on everything you need to know about Elvis and his home. Like Elvis, we come with a little southern charm!

Elvis Week Blog 8 – Graceland Museum Magic and Five Food Finds

BY JON WATERHOUSE A Quintet of Museum Magic Even if you’re visiting Graceland for the first time or the 50th, the museums’ eye candy never fails to delight. Thanks to the handy work of the Graceland archives department and their vast well of material, new items and fresh exhibits roll out frequently. Yesterday, I made sure to explore the memorabilia on view in the latest exhibits Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley and Where No One Stands Alone: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley. The exhibits can be found in the Fashion King and the Elvis: The Entertainer career museums, respectively. Harley Davidson Golf Cart Lisa Marie Presley was riding a Harley before she was old enough to drive. No, she wasn’t rumbling on a hog, but rather this baby blue golf cart, which Elvis gave her in December 1976. She used it to zip around the Graceland grounds. When visiting the Trophy Room on the mansion tour, keep an eye out for a display of the golf cart’s key and its jumbo keychain with LISA emblazoned upon it. Where to find: Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley White Faux Fur Coat and Family Album At the tender age of 2, Lisa Marie wore this tiny faux fur coat to protect her from Memphis’ wintry chill. The archivists pair the outwear with a family photo album found in Elvis’ desk drawer. Where to find: Lisa Marie: Growing Up Presley Grammy Awards Elvis’ trio of Grammys, each awarded for gospel recordings, have an appropriate home in the Where No One Stands Alone: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley exhibit. Won by Elvis in 1967, 1972 and 1974, the trophies’ gold shimmer practically illuminate them from behind the glass. Where to find: Elvis: The Entertainer Bible Also in the gospel exhibit, this 1964 Christmas gift given to Elvis by his entourage, rests on display next to several other spiritually-minded items from Presley’s personal collection. Look closely at the Bible pages for Elvis’ handwritten notes. Where to find: Elvis: The Entertainer The Memphis Suit The multicolored bling on this bold, white jumpsuit commands attention. Thanks to its individual display case, visitors can get up close and personal, and check out the suit’s detail. The king wore this IC Costume Company creation at his March 1974 concert at the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis. A recording of the show was immortalized on the album “Elvis Recorded...
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Elvis Week Blog 7 – Front Row at the ’68 Special 50th Anniversary Celebration

BY JON WATERHOUSE Die-hards know every note, every scene, every subtle nuance of the landmark 1968 “Elvis” NBC television special. The beloved show –known as the “’68 Comeback Special” in fan speak– captures Presley arguably at his peak. Sleek and inspired, raw and reinvigorated. How could it possibly get any better? It happened last night at the ’68 Special 50th Anniversary Celebration. The audience at the Graceland Soundstage witnessed what will go down as one of the most unique and moving multimedia presentations in Elvis Week history. Taking place in tandem with other screenings throughout the country on August 16, the Elvis Week show provided an exclusive happening. Event producer Andy Childs and a team of creatives infused a screening of the TV program’s original 90-minute version with a living, breathing documentary of sorts. Live behind-the-scenes recollections, musical enhancements, and Elvis’ original iconic costumes came together, taking the “’68 Special” experience to uncharted territory. Historic in nature, pivotal in Presley’s career trajectory, and still relevant today, “’68 Special” marked Elvis’ return to TV and performing in front of a live audience. It resulted in what many call one of Presley’s most passionate performances. Projected on the big screen with vintage commercials and the show’s original NBC introduction, the presentation gave the already larger-than-life musical film the appropriate size and scope. The Introductions Throughout the evening, some of the key players of the original broadcast took the stage. Producer-director Steve Binder, musical director Billy Goldenberg, and writer Allan Blye shared their own candid memories before introducing specific scenes. Dancer Tanya Lemani, who portrays the belly dancer in the “Little Egypt” scene, made a surprise appearance, dancing while donning a costume similar to what she wore 50 years earlier. Prerecorded reflections from Priscilla Presley, Elvis confidant and collaborator Jerry Schilling, songwriter Mac Davis and the late D.J. Fontana added even more perspective. The Costumes For the first time, Elvis’ trademark costumes from the original program, including that unmistakable black leather suit, were displayed onstage during a “’68 Special” screening. This unannounced element of the show took its own share of logistical preparation. According to Angie Marchese, vice president of archives and exhibits for Elvis Presley Enterprises, event producer Andy Childs proposed the concept, asking her blessing. “I thought it was an amazing idea. I told him, ‘I wouldn’t do this for anybody but you and Elvis,'” she said with a laugh....
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Elvis Week Blog 6 – Candlelight Vigil and Exploring The Guest House at Graceland

BY JON WATERHOUSE Candlelight Vigil 2018 Remarkable. Phenomenal. Unrivaled. It may sound like hyperbole to the uninitiated, but these and other adjectives only begin to describe Elvis Week’s Candlelight Vigil. Fans from around the world – a sweeping representation of races, ages and backgrounds – descend upon Elvis Presley Boulevard for this annual event. Thousands participate in the traditional graveside visit on the eve of the anniversary of Elvis’ death. Just after dusk, a perpetual procession begins at the gates of Graceland and winds its way up the mansion’s driveway to Elvis’ graveside at Meditation Garden. It lasts into the early hours of the next morning. Last night, 41 years after Elvis Presley’s passing, the tradition continued. SiriusXM Elvis Radio personality DJ Argo served as emcee and began the evening reminding the throng of fans lining the street in front of him they were gathering in the name of love. “To everybody at home, we’re spreading that Memphis love as we get ready,” Argo told those watching the Candlelight Vigil Livestream. “There are people here tonight who are carrying a candle for you.” Members of the Elvis Country fan club followed by addressing the crowd before introducing the 2018 Vigil theme song, Elvis’ “Thinking About You.” An apropos tune for sure, as Elvis occupied the collective consciousness. Soon after, everyone paused for a 16-second moment of silence, a reference to August 16, 1977. Remarkably, a hush grew over the massive crowd, only the sound of frogs and insects chirping in the night air. The Vigil walk began with a group of Japanese fan club members among the first up the driveway. The countless attendees with candles in hand included Elvis Week special guests actor Michael Dante (“Kid Galahad”), host Tom Brown and artist Betty Harper. I took the trek myself, marveling at the reverence of fellow fans along the way. After the Vigil, I had the opportunity to speak with several participants and get their thoughts on the Candlelight Vigil. Janice Peel, Canton, Texas “Everybody is so in tune with each other, we all get along, and it’s just like coming home. Elvis was so charitable and was always so accommodating to his fans. He never forgot them, and he never forgot where he came from. And we’ve never forgotten him. So being at the Vigil is about paying back.” Ernie Poublon, Los Angeles, Calif. “My biggest impression of...
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Elvis Week Blog 5 – Top 5 Elvis Gospel Concert Highlights

BY JON WATERHOUSE With the release of the new Elvis gospel album, “Where No One Stands Alone,” Elvis’ favorite genre returns to the spotlight. Last night at Graceland’s Soundstage, some of the gospel crooners who sang with the king –and appear on the new disc– did the same. The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley Concert brought together Elvis’ Imperials and former members of JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet for an evening of equal parts jubilation and inspiration. The spirited sounds certainly had an impact on the crowd, eliciting more than a few “amens” and standing ovations throughout the show. “They’re carrying the torch,” said audience member Liz Hill of Madison, Mississippi, a longtime Elvis gospel fan. “And I think that’s what Elvis would want.” That torch blazed for the better part of two hours with two full sets from each act and a few surprises. Here are my Top Five Highlights: The Throwback Intro To amp the crowd, footage from the concert film documentaries “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is” and “Elvis on Tour” projected on massive screens as a version of the gospel rave up “So High” boomed through the concert hall. Andy Childs, co-producer of “Where No One Stands Alone,” served as host and shared stories of Elvis’ passion for gospel, before introducing Elvis’ Imperials. Elvis’ Imperials The trio, featuring Terry Blackwood, Darrell Toney and Lynn Royce Taylor, bounced through an array of uptempo numbers, including Elvis foot-stompers “Bosom of Abraham” and “Swing Down Sweet Chariot.” “I Believe,” “The Secret” and more dipped into mellow introspection. Their set-closing medley stitched together bits of Elvis standards “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “The Wonder of You,” “An American Trilogy” and “How Great Thou Art.” “Where No One Stands Alone” After the Imperials’ set, fans scored a big-screen presentation of the music video for the title track off of “Where No One Stands Alone,” a virtual duet featuring Elvis and daughter Lisa Marie Presley. Footage of Elvis from his 1968 television special and vintage Presley home movies interlace with in-studio shots of Lisa Marie, uniting father and daughter in a heart-tugging tapestry of imagery and song. The Stamps Donnie Sumner, Bill Baize, Larry Strickland, Ed Hill and Jeff Sumner not only displayed their collective powers as a quintet, but took turns giving each other spots in the driver’s seat. This included Strickland’s powerful bass leading “Peace in the Valley”...
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Elvis Week Blog 4 – 5 Things to Love About Graceland’s New Chapel in the Woods

BY JON WATERHOUSE Elvis fans can’t help falling in love. Yesterday, in the midst of Elvis Week, Graceland ushered in a new era of romance with the first wedding at the new Chapel in the Woods. Marc Caudel and Julie Guardado, who met at Elvis Week in 2015, exchanged vows, marking the 2,000th wedding, dedication or vow renewal to take place on Graceland grounds. Darlene Love, who sang alongside Elvis, crooned her classic “Today I Met the Boy I’m Gonna Marry” as Guardado walked down the aisle. Following the wedding, 10 couples renewed their vows in a single ceremony, an event Graceland dubbed “A Day of Love.” Countless days of “I dos” are yet to come as Graceland’s latest addition replaces the original chapel, which chalked up 18 years of tender loving care. The new digs meld classic country church charm and contemporary architecture with tasteful nods to Elvis, perhaps the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll Cupid. Savannah Burkholder, Graceland’s special events facilitator, gave us a rundown of the new Chapel in the Woods and what makes it the perfect place for couples who share a burning love for Elvis and each other. Location, Location, Location The new chapel is tucked in the woods between the Graceland mansion and Guest House at Graceland resort, but closer to the latter. In fact, take a peek out of the chapel window, and you’ll see the outline of the resort in the distance. A path links the chapel to the Guest House, giving couples the convenient option of spending their honeymoon in one of the resort’s 450 rooms or toasting their nuptials over drinks and dinner. According to Burkholder, some couples arrive without a vehicle of their own. With a wedding venue, luxury accommodations, restaurants and attractions all located on the Graceland campus, honeymooners can easily stay put. The Decor The chapel’s style remains strictly southern with its vaulted ceiling and wood accents. Floor-to-ceiling windows, one of Burkholder’s favorite aspects, put nature on display. “Up front where the couples exchange vows, the windows overlook the woods,” Burkholder said. “You really don’t have to do any decorating, because you can look out and see the beautiful trees and greenery. It’s truly breathtaking.” Subtle touches remind guests they’re on Graceland property. Wedding photos of Elvis and Priscilla Presley can be seen on the chapel walls. Look for other hints of Elvis in both the bride...
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Elvis Week Blog 3 – Backstage at the Ultimate: An Interview with host Joey Sulipeck

BY JON WATERHOUSE Throughout this year’s Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest, all eyes and ears remained fixed on the competitors. The glimmering jumpsuits, the robust vocals, the rhythmic moves. It’s their night, especially 2018 Champion Ben Thompson from England. If you ask host Joey Sulipeck, it’s his job to keep it that way. “I’ve always seen my role during the show as the last person you think of,” said Sulipeck, who works as Chief Meteorologist for FOX13 News in Memphis. “I need to be as invisible as possible and funnel everything I say and do toward (helping) the audience enjoy the next performance.” Sulipeck’s been helping audiences enjoy the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest since its debut in 2007. Prior to that, he served as a host for the early editions of Graceland’s Candlelight VigilCast, the annual live Webcast of Elvis Week’s Candlelight Vigil. For years, the Memphis native and lifelong Elvis enthusiast had been fascinated and impressed by the local Elvis tribute performer scene. He watched as high caliber talent, many traveling from all over the country, came to town, singing at showcases and in contests. The artists’ passion, dedication and ability to recreate Elvis’ live performances struck Sulipeck to the point he shared his findings with his friends at Elvis Presley Enterprises. After much consideration, Elvis Presley Enterprises decided to create the inaugural Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest as the premier event of its kind. And they’ve enlisted Sulipeck as master of ceremonies ever since. “I think it was a brilliant move for Graceland to embrace (these performers),” said Sulipeck. “It really helps propel the legacy of Elvis, his music and his reach. It brings his music to life in a way very few things do. These talented performers are tying into peoples’ aching desire to have seen Elvis perform or see him perform again.” Prior to this year’s finals, Sulipeck gave the Elvis Week blog a backstage view of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest. On the popularity of the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest: “So we kicked off the first year wondering if it would work, if it would be a one-time deal. It was going to be a fun experiment to see how it went. I thought it would be (great) if we did it two years in a row. Now here we are 12 (contests) later. …I’ve just been honored to have been...
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Elvis Week Blog 2 – Exclusive: ‘Where No One Stands Alone’ Producer Andy Childs

BY JON WATERHOUSE Yesterday, for veteran record producer and singer-songwriter Andy Childs, a project born at Elvis Week 2017 came full circle in the very spot it began. Flanked by Lisa Marie Presley, Joel Weinshanker and Sony Music’s John Jackson, Childs and company celebrated the release of “Where No One Stands Alone,” a reimagining of select Elvis Presley gospel songs with new instrumentation and Elvis’ original vocal performances as the centerpiece. Childs and company treated the audience inside the Graceland Soundstage to album snippets, the music video for the title track –Elvis and Lisa Marie’s virtual father-daughter duet– and a 20-minute making-of documentary. A dream project for sure, “Where No One Stands Alone” saw Childs co-producing the album, wrangling 14 tracks, handpicking musicians and some of the original background vocalists who worked with Elvis, and crafting contemporary-minded song structure. Yet, the Memphis-born Childs said his main goal was putting the spotlight on the unmistakeable voice of the city’s endearing, international icon. After wrapping the album, Childs, a lifelong Elvis fan, said his appreciation for Presley has soared to new heights. The aspect of the album he’s most proud of? “Elvis Presley,” said Childs, “and the fact that I feel we were able to make him front-and-center in every single song.” During a recent conversation, Childs gave the Elvis Week blog an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the album’s genesis, collaborating with Lisa Marie Presley, and the daunting responsibility of spearheading a posthumous Elvis project. On how he got involved: “I was first approached about working on the album by Joel Weinshanker and John Jackson from Sony last year during Elvis Week. The reason they approached me is because I’ve produced a lot of projects in Nashville, and I’m friends with all of the gospel singers who used to travel and sing with Elvis and sing on his records. I’ve done a lot of programs with those guys and have known them all for a lot of years. My two sons are grandsons of Cecil Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. And (Blackwood) was one of Elvis’ biggest influences. So I’ve had a connection to the rock ‘n’ roll world, the record world, the gospel world, and all of that stuff. And it all just sort of dictated that I might be a good choice.” On wrapping his head around the project: “The first thing you ask yourself when you’re asked...
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Elvis Week Blog 1 – 10 Reasons to Get Excited About Elvis Week 2018

BY JON WATERHOUSE Lord almighty, I feel my temperature rising. Even as I settle in for my sixth stint as Elvis Week blogger, the arrival of this annual celebration of all things Elvis smacks with excitement. Although last year’s installment proved to be a landmark edition, Elvis Presley Enterprises and Graceland promise the ultimate encore. Elvis Week 2018 offers an array of attractions and not-to-miss events, from time-honored favorites to Elvis Week firsts. So how does an Elvis Week attendee make the most of all this Elvisness? The Elvis Week app allows you to select events you’re most interested in and create your own personal schedule. If you can’t make it to Memphis, check out the blog as I provide a behind-the-scenes look with event coverage, backstage interviews and more. 10 REASONS TO GET EXCITED ABOUT ELVIS WEEK 2018 Listening Party for “Where No One Stands Alone” Tomorrow fans receive the rare opportunity to attend a kick-off celebration of the new disc “Where No One Stands Alone.” It’s a reimagining of select gospel tracks from the king’s career, featuring Elvis’ lead vox, fresh background vocals from some of the original singers and new instrumentation. Lisa Marie Presley – she duets with her dad on the title cut- and co-producers Joel Weinshanker and Andy Childs give guests a peek behind the curtain of this album event. Insider Tip: Fans can grab copies of this fresh-out-of-the-box release at Elvis Week, and listen to Elvis Radio on SiriusXM as the DJs spin various tracks. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artists Each year at Elvis Week, the world’s greatest Elvis tribute artists duke it out for prizes and bragging rights. The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest is their Super Bowl, and the semifinal (tonight) and final round performances (Aug. 12) remain two of the hottest tickets. Need even more Ultimate? Elvis: The Greatest Hits Ultimate Tribute Artist Show (Aug. 11) features Victor Trevino Jr. and a trio of past winners: Bill Cherry, Cody Slaughter and Gordon Hendricks. Insider Tip: If you want to meet an ETA in person and missed out on the sold-out meet-and-greet event, visit the Elvis Week Entertainment Tent at Elvis Presley’s Memphis, a favorite haunt of many performers. Graceland Excursions See where it all began. These luxury motor coach tours offer a pair of day trips tracing Elvis’ early years and musical influences, respectively. The beat rolls on through Elvis...
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Elvis Week Trivia Game

Who’s ready for Elvis Week? Elvis Week 2018 will be the biggest and best Elvis Week yet! We look forward to welcoming fans from around the world as they make the ultimate pilgrimage to be with us during this annual celebration of the life and legacy of Elvis Presley. How well do you know this year’s special guests, events and celebrations? Take the quiz and find out – and don’t forget to make your Elvis Week plans now at...
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Elvis at Stax

In 1973, one Memphis legend, Elvis Presley, visited another Memphis legend, Stax Records, to create music. This month marks the 45th anniversary of Elvis’ first sessions at Stax. Brother and sister team Estelle Axton and Jim Stewart created Stax in Memphis in the late 1950s. The studio saw successes and failures throughout the years, but the music created there still lives on. Hit songs and albums released by Stax include Booker T. & the M.G.’s “Green Onions,” Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness,” “In the Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett, “Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes)” by Carla Thomas, “Hold On, I’m Comin” by Sam and Dave, “Knock on Wood” by Eddie Floyd, Rufus Thomas’ “Walking the Dog,” Isaac Hayes’ “Hot Buttered Soul,” “I’ll Take You There” by Staples Singers and “Private Number” by William Bell and Judy Clay – just to name a few. The powerhouse team of David Porter and Isaac Hayes wrote and produced many of these hits, and Hayes, of course, went on to enjoy his own music career. Hayes scored the biggest Stax hit with “Theme from Shaft” in 1971. Enter Elvis 1972 and 1973 were exciting years for Elvis. He ended 1972 with the success of his concert documentary, “Elvis on Tour,” which would go on to win a Golden Globe Award. 1973 kicked off with a bang, with the massive success of his “Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite” special. He spent much of the first half of ’73 on tour, but he knew he needed to go into the studio to record music for RCA. He didn’t feel like returning to Nashville or Los Angeles studios, though; he hoped for something a little closer to home. Elvis had recorded in Memphis previously, and decided to give Stax a try. Stax was just a 10-minute drive from Graceland, so recording there allowed him to enjoy the comforts of home and to spend time with his daughter, Lisa Marie, while also getting the work completed. Typically, only Stax artists used the label’s studio, but they were excited to work with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Hayes graciously rearranged his own recording schedule to allow Elvis to record at the studio. Elvis’ first Stax sessions took place on July 20-25, and, of course, late at night, as Elvis was a night owl. He was joined in the studio by guitarists James Burton and Reggie...
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